Teaching for Racial Justice

 “When we speak, we are afraid our words will not be heard or welcomed. But when we are silent, we are still afraid. So it is better to speak.”

-Audre Lorde, A Litany for Survival


As a part of our stated mission to be “an exemplar of teaching excellence… to improve student success”, the Michael V. Drake Institute for Teaching and Learning is deeply committed to providing instructors with resources that support anti-racist pedagogies.

Conversations around police brutality, racialized violence and institutional racism have come to the fore in recent months, and thoughtful management of these conversations will be more critical than ever as we return to campus this fall. We hope you will find these collected tips and resources valuable as you productively navigate these conversations in your classroom in AU20 and beyond.

As always, Drake Institute consultants are available to work with you and/or your department to address these issues, and any other issues that may be shaping the teaching and learning environment in which we collectively strive for inclusive excellence.


Tips for Navigating Conversations

Address problematic remarks immediately and directly: If a student makes a remark that you or anyone in the classroom considers to be problematic, be sure to take the time to address and explore it directly. By doing so, you will model accountable behavior and remove responsibility for clarifying and correcting inappropriate commentary from minoritized students.

Call In rather than Call Out: Calling out is an act of pointing out that another person is participating in an oppressive action. In contrast, Calling in is a deliberately compassionate practice of pulling folks back in when they stray from the group.

Make boundaries clear to students ahead of conversation: Build up to potentially challenging conversations by clarifying language and etiquette with your students. Consider creating a classroom contract and/or discussion guidelines with students to guide them through these discussions.

Redirect rather than challenge comments: Pull the positive intentions out of what might be well-meaning but awkwardly worded comments. Help students to rephrase their statements more respectfully.

Focus on group and community learning: Rather than confronting an individual student for their comments, turn the focus to group and community accountability. Remind students of any classroom commitments or guidelines they have agreed to, and to be respectful to others present.


Additional Resources 

Managing difficult dialogues:


Anti-racist teaching strategies:


Anti-racist texts and viewings:


Related resources: